Category: one word 2014

leaning into my enough-ness

I lit the candles. The cookie cake was cooling on the counter. I dipped a strawberry in the coconut whipped cream, savoring the moment. I was pleased with how clean the house was despite the four kids and four dogs running amuck.

I was ready. 

Kristine came over with her two kids, adding noise and chaos.

I helped her set up the jewelry and by 6:45 we were ready.

Her husband picked up her two kids. Doug took my three out on adventure. 

Peace descended.

The minutes ticked10616010_10104938356026810_5849422438655786421_n. At 7:15 it was fairly obvious that no one was coming. I took a picture wearing some of the new Noonday pieces. We sipped the sangria and enjoyed the (gluten-free) desserts I had made.

//

Matthew got home and asked me if I felt sad that no one came to the party.

I did. I enjoy having people over and feeding them. I enjoy hearing the stories and the conversations and making connections with people.

I didn’t care so much about selling jewelry—it was just an excuse to see people I don’t often get to see. 

But as I rest in this emotion, one thing is clear. I feel sad that no one came, but I am not experiencing it as rejection. 

I think in some ways, I was prepared for no one to come. Only 7 people RSVP’d out of 60 so the odds were not in our favor. And I decided that whatever happened, it would be enough. But it’s hard in those moments when you’ve cooked and cleaned and prepped and opened your home to have people not show up.

I have been hurt a lot by these kinds of moments. Feeling inadequate, and unloved. Knowing if the invitation came from someone else, people would be all over themselves to show up. What makes her more lovable than me? Bitterness and jealousy were always moments behind, fueling the comparisons.

But this time…this time I embraced the moment for what it was. I enjoyed the time with my friend who I don’t see often without our kids. I got to feed a few people. My kids are thrilled about the leftover cookies. The candles created light. I knew I was enough. I felt sad, but not rejected. 

I have learned no one else can make me feel this—if I rely on the outward circumstances to speak adequacy over me, I will feel empty more often than I feel full. But when I rest in my enough-ness the outside circumstances don’t get to speak value over me one way or the other. 

I am enough.

leaning into the abundance

IMG_0827The bike ride was long and on a partially eroded trail. Trees reached out to brush against me on one side and a drop-off threatened on the other. I stopped often to get my bearings and breathe, walking when it overwhelmed me. 

“This path is too over-stimulating. I can’t take it all in at once,” I complained, ducking under another tree branch and falling off the bike for the nineteenth time.

We took a break when we ran into the rest of our group who had started an hour before us. They were sitting, enjoying the view and eating lunch. I walked down to the water. I needed to touch it, to feel it between my palms, cool and crisp. I kneeled over, reaching my hands out, testing my balance—almost falling in when a larger wave came and I was careless in my haste to get away from it. I laughed with delight and Doug laughed with me. I have been surrounded by mountains, but something about the water calls to me. It soothes me. I see it flowing by my window right now and somehow the words come easier when I pause to breathe and see—to watch the water curve away from me, carving the earth as it passes.

We climbed back up to the trail to continue the bike ride and it happened.

I did it again. That moment when I looked up and make eye contact with a stranger. I studied her. I weighed her. I looked at another human being and viewed her as competition. It’s not something I’m proud of—but it seems to be a visceral response when I encounter an unknown person.

I begin comparing her and I, wondering which of us has more to offer. 

Who will be more valued and loved? 

Who has the better story? The better life?

Who is more fit? Better looking? 

Who is more engaging and interesting?

As I walked up the hill I studied her, eyeing her. That look. The calculated one. I smiled at her, hoping to appear friendly and she gave me a half smile back. And I climbed on my bike and thought about what it would be like with her at the cabin for the next 24 hours. 

And then something shifted. 

I thought about what I had just experienced, the water and the fun and the breathing. The peace and the joy Doug and I were absorbing and radiating as we sat by the water. I saw us laughing and playing, taking pictures and embracing all that we are. 

And with different eyes, I saw how I would want to be part of that. I saw that it was attractive—and I experienced a moment of clarity—this is how people see me.

I embrace. I am warm. I am intuitive and somehow often manage to find words people need to hear. I am quiet and calm and peaceful. I am tender and generous. I saw me as my friends experience me. And those feelings of warmth and acceptance towards myself led me to want to breathe that over this unknown woman. I wanted her to feel her value. I wanted her to feel connection. I wanted her to experience a quiet joy. 

It wasn’t rebuke my heart needed—it was acceptance. I could have spent hours praying and repenting over the “sin.” But it was knowing I am enough and I am loved that did the heart-work. And this heart-knowledge led me from viewing through the lens of competition to viewing through the lens of connection. 

The weighing and the measuring were forgotten. Now my desire was to experience and know this person for the amount of time we would have together. 

I expect that I am still learning this—it’s an otherworldly response in a world that tells us there are a limited number of spaces. A limited number of resources. It’s a different lens, this idea of abundance—that I can take all the space I need and you can take all the space you need and there is more than enough. I don’t quiet know how to do it well yet, because I’ve grown up in a world were we fight like dogs for scraps under the table. But I’m loving this new freedom where I can champion and connect and rest, knowing that there’s room for me, too. I don’t have to weigh and measure and give side-eyes as I watch to see what someone’s planning to take from me. 

As a teenager, I experienced the vanity that all teenagers experience and wanted to have nicer things. So I spent my own money to buy higher quality shampoo and conditioner than what my mom would buy. I hoarded that stuff like it was liquid gold, carrying it to and from the showers and hiding it in my bedroom. I didn’t want my two sisters to use it, and I knew they would if I left it in the shower. Because I thought there wasn’t enough, I held onto it. I fought for it. I clung to something that I thought was precious. Where’s the shampoo now? It’s been washed down the drain a million times over. Where are my sisters? We’re still learning how to support each other because we didn’t fully learn it as kids. We spent too much time weighing and judging. We spent too little time celebrating and championing each other. 

I don’t want to go backwards. I don’t want to cling to my little world rather than getting to experience the wild beauty that surrounds me. I want to trust that there’s abundance. That there is room and space for all of us to stretch out and breathe, to dip our fingers in the water, to be fully present and enjoying life. I want a space where we don’t have to fight for scraps because we believe there is so much more. 

My heart is full today because I saw a glimpse of what that looks like for me.

breathing in the untamed

IMG_3119There’s a savagery to civilization. Cutting down the sacred to make room for the new and improved. We have to destroy and mold it in order to make it safer. We beat and subdue it until it succumbs to our needs. Modern convenience. It’s a sacrifice we’ve made to tame the wild. Sometimes I look at the world and my heart breaks for how we’ve carved and divided it. We staked and claimed and ran out the native inhabitants (both animal and people) who were before us. We put in streets and neighborhoods and spread out over the land like locusts. We cut out the hearts of mountains, raped and plundered the earth’s depths forcing it to reveal it’s secrets.

We’ve tamed and subdued it so much that it has lost its wild beauty. There isn’t much that hasn’t been conquered or felt the effects of our rapid development. Yet without the modern conveniences of pavement and planes I wouldn’t be able to experience even a taste of this wild beauty. I stand at the edge of the world. It’s a place where animals still own much of the land, and civilization hasn’t fully invaded. I’m in a city—but it’s small compared to the ones I’ve left. I stand at a point in time where I can look out my window and see lush forests for miles, the people are few and far between.

I’m terrified of the bears that live up on these Alaskan mountains. But I want to climb them. It’s an agonizing tension—the need for safety and the call to this wild beauty where everything is possible. All the savagery but also all the expansion of my tiny body. My soul screams to experience life to its fullest almost as if it knows this is it’s one chance at adventure. But my body fights because it knows it is so fragile and mortal—torn apart easily by vicious teeth. And my mind mediates between the two…trying to appease the hunger of my soul and the fear of my flesh. And bit by bit I am succumbing to the desire for a savage beauty, an untamed wilderness, the call of the wild. 

double-edged

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photo by Jennifer Upton

Yesterday.

I have no words for the hole I got sucked into. There were some hard truths I needed to face with my therapist. Things that had been warping my view of the world. And as I began to verbalize them, I felt a release. I tipped my hat, acknowledging them for the lies they were. And as we wrapped up my counselor looked at me and asked how do you feel? Are you OK leaving that here?

Yeah, it’s great. I mean, I know they’re lies so it’s fine.

But later in the day I pulled out my kindle and read. Voraciously. I paused to play Harry Potter with Matthew when he asked me too. He and I have bonded over this video game and while I hated to poke my head out from the hole I also didn’t want to disappoint him. And video games can be just as mind-numbing as books, turns out. And after that I ran to my room as fast as I could to hide under the metaphorical blankets and continued to read. I read all night, long after Doug orchestrated supper and put the kids to bed. Then he came to bed and I said I would be right there…and at 3am I finished the book and knew I needed to stop. I tossed and turned, characters running through my head…and Doug’s words from earlier that night.

I’m sorry I accused you of not doing anything today. For all I know counseling was really hard and you just couldn’t do anything after that.

And then it clicked. He saw me even when I couldn’t see myself. Because my love for books is a two-edged sword. It brings me life and I enjoy it. But it also becomes a coping mechanism, a way to escape from the real world around me when I don’t like what I see in the mirror. I read without regard to time or priorities, lost in fantasy where there are easy conclusions (sometimes) and where I can feel things that aren’t real. Where I get swept away in a torrent but am safe, enshrouded in blankets. And it’s a wrestling of sorts. Because reading is restful and restorative. But it can also numb me out to the world around me–to my family, my kids, and my friends.

I hate that most of the things I love need to be practiced with balance and moderation. If it’s good, why can’t it just be all good? Why do I take the good and suck the marrow out of it until it becomes an obsession, a habit…abuse? So many good things and I’m not to be trusted with them.

Shame crawls along my skin threatening to sink me, for caving once again to the desires of my flesh. And again I face the temptation to check out. To just let go and float under in the void. Why does shame taunt me so restlessly? Why can’t I escape? Why can’t I grow wings and experience freedom? Today I feel weighted down and abandoned to the system. Today, the shackles have won.

Or have they? Because I’m writing these words. The hard ones. Facing the truth head on. Yes, yesterday I succumbed to darkness. But today, through gentle words from friends, I am seeing echelons of truth across the canvas–pushing through the gray muddle. And in a vulnerable, humble place, I wait. Taking one breath one step to claim the freedom. Still feeling the stings of wrists and ankles rubbed raw from binding chains, but I know they yield to the light. So I reach for and grasp it, clinging to the bit of truth that I know–I am loved and beloved.

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